This webpage includes frequently asked questions about being a creator of copyright-protected works, and about copyright in publishing and conducting research.

Generally, the creator owns copyright to their work unless it has been assigned to another person or entity such as a publisher. If the work was created in the course of employment, often the employer will own the copyright. Copyright ownership of materials created in the course of employment at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) is generally outlined in the employment agreements. USask faculty own copyright in their own works, including course materials and research. USask students are automatically the copyright owners of any materials that they create in their role as students (for example, essays, written assignments).
In Canada, an original work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is created in a fixed form (for example, written down on paper, saved on a computer, recorded, videotaped or painted on canvas) except for a sound recording, performer’s performance or communication signal (which may be transmitted instead of fixed). The work does not have to be in its final form to be copyright-protected.
No. Copyright in a work exists automatically when an original work is created, so the owner is immediately entitled to the rights afforded to them by copyright law. Registration of copyright through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) does not preclude or enhance protection. However, it is still a good idea to register your copyright and to include a copyright statement on your works.

Yes. Copyright protection eventually expires and works will then become part of the public domain. Material in the public domain may be freely copied without permission or payment of royalties. There is also an important exception to the rights of copyright owners known as fair dealing. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act attempts to balance the rights of the copyright owner with the needs of others, such as students and researchers, who require access to copyright-protected materials to pursue their studies and research activities.

This depends on any contracts that you may have signed with the publisher of your work. If you retained your copyright in the publishing contract, then you can distribute your work as well as give or withhold permission for others to do so. If you have transferred your copyright over to a publisher, then your ability to distribute your work will be more limited. Before you sign a publication agreement, it is highly recommended that you ensure the agreement allows you to distribute your work for teaching, research and other scholarly purposes.

To assist authors in retaining their copyright when publishing a journal article, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) has put together a brochure with some practical tips for negotiating publishing contracts as well as an addendum that authors can try to add to their contracts with publishers. The brochure also includes some information that would be helpful for negotiating contracts with book publishers.

Two additional resources that may be helpful are:

One option for disseminating your work while retaining your rights as the author/creator of a work is to publish your work openly. This University of Saskatchewan research guide on open access provides background information on the open publishing movement, as well as information specifically for authors and information about how to publish different types of materials openly. For example, posting your images on a website such as figshare or Flickr and attaching a Creative Commons license to them will ensure that you remain the copyright owner of the images (even if you subsequently publish them). See this blog post for more details.

Librarians at the University of Saskatchewan have created a Predatory Publishers research guide to help the university community identify and avoid publishing with “questionable or disreputable” journals and publishers, which are commonly known as “predatory” journals/publishers.

Unless it is otherwise noted, you should always assume that existing survey tools are copyright-protected and that permission is required to use them in research.

Published tests are commercially available and can usually be purchased through the test publisher for use in your research. Unpublished tests can usually be acquired from the author or creator of the test and should be used with permission.

Permission is also required to adapt or modify an existing test or measure, because the right to adapt or modify a work is exclusive to the copyright holder of that work.

Copying a test or measure for the purpose of analyzing or critiquing the measure may be considered fair dealing under the Canadian Copyright Act, but only if the copy was made from a legally obtained original. Please contact the copyright coordinator for additional details.

For assistance with finding tests and measures or information about tests and measures for your field:

Getting help

If you have any questions or concerns about copyright, please let us know!

Copyright Coordinator
122.13 Murray Library

Note: The information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice.


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